March 21, 2014
Science Daily/Rutgers University
Depression and obesity have long been associated, but how they relate over time is less clear. New research shows that adolescent females who experience one of the disorders are at a greater risk for the other as they get older. It is unknown why no associations across time between the two disorders were found in male adolescents, but researchers hypothesize that it could be a result of different developmental processes leading to obesity and depression in males and females.
"Adolescence is a key developmental period for both obesity and depression, so we thought it significant to look at the onset of these disorders at an early age," says Naomi Marmorstein, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers-Camden.
"When a person is young, she is still developing eating and activity patterns, as well as coping mechanisms," Marmorstein explains. "So if she experiences a depressive episode at age 14, she may be more at risk for having an onset of unhealthy patterns that persist."
"When an adolescent girl receives treatment for depression, the clinician might consider incorporating something relating to healthy eating and activity," she says. "Exercise can assist in the treatment of depression to begin with, so it seems like a good reason to combine prevention efforts for both depression and obesity."